Florida resident aid suffers in recession

By Matthew Boyle | mboyle@flagler.edu

Students’ pocketbooks and wallets probably feel a little lighter this academic year than last year as Florida cut funding to all higher education programs.

Most notable to Flagler College students is the 9 percent slash in Florida Resident Access Grant funding. Because Flagler is an independent college, in-state students don’t get tuition breaks, making FRAG a centerpiece of many students’ financial plans here.

Rising junior Milton Soto, who pays his own way through school, is feeling effects of the cut already.
“It put a little more pressure on me,” Soto said, who works almost 40 hours a week between his three jobs.

The state budget reduced annual FRAG awards to $2,529 per student, down $310 from last year’s $2,839 per student.
Soto said the $310 isn’t that much to make up for, but if he were an underclassman this year, he’d probably rethink where he goes to school.

“It’s too late in the game [to transfer to another college] at this point,” he said. “I just have to suck it up.”

State Rep. William Proctor, who also serves as Chancellor of Flagler, said the cut was inevitable and had to be made because of state revenue losses during the recession.

“Some of [the deficit] was replaced by stimulus funds,” Proctor said.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee agreed that FRAG funding needed to be reduced to make up for state revenue losses in areas including sales tax, lottery and corporate income tax. They disagreed, however, on the amount to cut.

“A 9 percent reduction was the house position,” Proctor said. “The senate recommended a 15 percent cut.”

Nonetheless, FRAG students will get $310 less this year. Soto said he’ll need to pick up more hours at work and give up some expenses to make up for it.

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